SPEDA initiative promotes the need for excellent customer service and supports the local tourism industry
The Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) will host its annual free hospitality training on May 10 — an effort to help the community’s front-line service workers feel confident in providing the best possible customer service to visitors.
Tourism is Somerset-Pulaski County’s No. 1 industry. More than 4 million recreational visitors visit Lake Cumberland every year, underscoring the need to ensure businesses in the community understand the basics of good hospitality. In 2020, the latest tourism data available, visitors spent more than $115 million in Pulaski County, generating significant tax revenue and supporting more than 1,000 tourism-related jobs.
“When you put that 4 million figure in perspective, that is more than Yellowstone National Park or even the Grand Canyon,” said Michelle Allen, Lake Cumberland Tourism executive director and leader of SPEDA’s hospitality training series. “Lake Cumberland is one of the nation’s outdoor tourism destinations and it’s imperative that we do all we can to help our front-line employees feel prepared to serve those visitors as we approach the summer months.”
SPEDA’s hospitality training focuses on the basics of excellent customer service while teaching front-line employees how to direct visitors to community events and attractions. Allen said the course will cover telephone etiquette, how to deal with difficult customers, the importance of going the extra mile and appropriate dress.
Front-line employees are those who work in hotel lobbies, retail, dining establishments, convenience stores or other positions that interact directly with visitors. While the training is available to anyone locally who would like to attend, it is tailored specifically to those workers, Allen said.
In addition to leading tourism efforts in Pulaski County and serving as the chair of the Southern Kentucky Vacations region, Allen has delivered similar training courses across the area on behalf of Tour Southern and Eastern Kentucky, and most recently, for employees at Louisville’s Kentucky Derby Museum.
“If businesses in metropolitan areas like Louisville take advantage of this training, ours should as well,” said Allen, who is also the vice-chair of the SPEDA board of directors. “My message is simple: A visitor’s first impression could always be their last, so it’s crucial for us to shine the first time. We want visitors to keep returning to Somerset and Pulaski County not only because they love it here, but because their experience is second-to-none. I am grateful SPEDA sees the value in this and provides this training free to the community.”
Girdler said Allen brings a wealth of experience to the table for participants and hopes many will take advantage of this free training opportunity.
“Putting our best foot forward as a community is incredibly important in ensuring we remain competitive as a top outdoor recreation destination,” Girdler said. “This training not only fosters business growth, but it also supports our No. 1 industry and encourages and empowers the employees working within it. That is at the heart of SPEDA’s mission and our core value of innovation. We will always work to make opportunities available that are equally beneficial to the growth of our economy and our people.”
SPEDA’s free hospitality training will be 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, May 10 in the council chambers of the City of Somerset Energy Center, 306 E. Mt. Vernon St. For more information or to RSVP, call (606) 425-5409 or e-mail SPEDA Chief Accounting Officer Jessica Carlton at email@example.com.